Saturated California gets more rain and snow, but so far escapes severe damage it saw only weeks ago

LOS ANGELES — Much of saturated California faced the threat of flooding with winter storms on Tuesday, but so far the state has escaped the severity of damage from mudslides, winds and rain spawned by an atmospheric river just weeks ago.

While the rain was concentrated in Southern California, thunderstorms and strong winds are expected over much of the state and mountain snow could hit at times in the north. Some flood warnings and warnings were expected to remain in force until Wednesday.

The heaviest rain is expected in the Los Angeles area on Tuesday, increasing even more overnight with an additional one to five inches on top of the two to five inches that have fallen in the area in recent days, says Bob Oravec, chief forecaster at the National Weather Service in Maryland.

“It’s tough, but not as tough as before,” he said. “But it was a wet month throughout Southern California. The ground is saturated, so any additional rain could bring the risk of flash flooding.”

The Los Angeles area has received about six inches of rain so far this month, while parts of the coastline and mountain areas further north received more than a foot of precipitation, Oravec said.

The upside, he said, is that there is some light at the end of the tunnel: The region isn’t expected to see more rain until next weekend.

Jim Callahan, a hardware store owner in Los Angeles, said last year’s rains may have been more difficult for residents because they were not as prepared for the challenges as this year.

Sandbags sold out at his convenience store in Mid-Wilshire about a week ago, he said. Pumps, tarps and roofing are flying off the shelves as residents struggle with leaks and flooding in their homes.

“It’s not the worst I’ve ever seen, but it’s definitely the most at one time,” Callahan said of the rain. His family has run Callahan Hardware since 1908.

‘Here in Los Angeles we are spoiled. We don’t have any season except the sun, so when there is a little rain, people act a little crazy. But we will put rain over snow any day of the week,” he added.

At Workboots 4 U, a store about three miles south of Callahan’s store, store manager Ed Diaz said business was brisk with construction workers and others looking for waterproof boots.

The 31-year-old Los Angeles resident said the rain also hampered his commute, with his truck’s engine destroyed by the floodwaters and him being forced to take the bus to work in the city in recent days.

“It’s painful,” he said. “It feels like the rain has gotten crazier in recent years. People adapt and learn to cope, but that is not easy for everyone.”

Tuesday’s rain forced Disneyland to shorten its hours, while nearby Knott’s Berry Farm and SeaWorld in San Diego were permanently closed.

A flood-prone section of the Pacific Coast Highway was closed south of Los Angeles and evacuation warnings were issued in the west due to possible mudslides.

The National Weather Service also warned any brave souls venturing to the coastline to stay well away from the crashing ocean waves.

North of the city, Santa Barbara Airport reopened a day after heavy rains flooded the runways, according to a statement on its website.

Ethan Ragsdale, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department, implored residents to stay away from creeks and other normally tame bodies of water even after the rains subside.

“They are absolutely dangerous,” he told The Associated Press. “There is fast flowing water and what we don’t want is for anyone to get hurt or worse.”

The wet, wintry weather hit the state just weeks after a powerful atmospheric river parked itself over Southern California, turning roads into rivers, causing hundreds of landslides and killing at least nine people.

This week’s storm has already led to several rescues on swollen rivers and creeks on Monday. Crews helped three people from the rising Salinas River in Paso Robles, while a camper stuck in a tree was rescued along a creek in El Dorado Hills, northeast of Sacramento.

Federal authorities have also approved disaster assistance for San Diego County residents.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said Sunday that aid from the disaster declaration will help recovery efforts after severe storms that hit the Southern California region in late January, damaging more than 800 homes and leading to at least three deaths.

The assistance could include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs for individuals and business owners, the agency said.


Marcelo reported from New York.